For a long time, iRobot has been the go-to robot vacuum brand for many users. This does not come as a surprise because this company presents buyers with a wide range of high-quality robot vacuums fit for almost every consumer.
There are affordable models with decent features, high-end models with the latest features and futuristic abilities, and if you want a balance between performance and affordability, you also get some options in the mid-budget range.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at three of these robot vacuums in the mid to high budget range. These robots are the Roomba 960, the Roomba 980 and the Roomba 985. They are not very far apart when it comes to features, performance and cost hence they are all worthy considerations if you are shopping for a robot in this price bracket.
Let’s jump in and see how these vacuums perform.
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We’ll start by finding out how effective they are in cleaning your floors because that’s what vacuum cleaners are made for.
This is the simplest of the three Roombas we’ll be comparing hence it does not come as a surprise that it has the lowest suction strength. With that said, it’s important to note that it still comes with more suction that many robot vacuums in the market hence you can still count on getting good results.
We’ll use the Roomba 600 series as a benchmark for suction in this article. When compared to the vacuums in this series, the Roomba 960 has five times as much suction strength. This means that it will have no problems picking up fine and large particles from most of your floor surfaces.
It comes with two Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes that perform amazingly on hard floors and carpets and they will deliver amazing results whether you are vacuuming pet hair, fine dust particles or larger debris. These brushes are part of iRobot’s premium 3-stage cleaning system that will do a great job of making sure that every square inch of your floor is left spotless.
These flexible rubber brushes work great with the adjustable cleaning head that moves up and down to ensure that the brushes are at the best possible height for optimal cleaning.
iRobot Roomba 980
This robot does even better than what the Roomba 960 does when it comes to suction and cleaning performance. For starters, it comes with ten times the suction strength available in the Roomba 600 series which we used as a benchmark when evaluating the 960. This means that you will be able to do much more and achieve better results even on thick carpets with this vacuum.
Like the Roomba 960, this robot vacuum also comes with iRobot’s signature Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes that perform exceptionally both on carpets and hard floors regardless of what you are vacuuming. These brushes are probably the reason why Roombas generally perform better than most other vacuums on many surfaces.
This Roomba also comes with the adjustable cleaning head that moves up and down to ensure that the brushes are at the best possible height for cleaning the particular floor type the robot is working on. Another feature that helps this robot to adapt to its environment is Power Boost Technology that automatically increases suction when the robot reaches a carpet for deeper cleaning and better results.
iRobot Roomba 985
This is another powerful Roomba from iRobot and it will also not disappoint when it comes to suction and cleaning performance. It also offers ten times the suction strength available in the Roomba 600 series that is complemented by several iRobot high-end features to boost performance.
This robot is very similar to the Roomba 980 hence the cleaning performance is also quite close in both these vacuums. It also comes with Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes on a flexible cleaning head that will move up and down to ensure optimum height.
This robot also comes with Power Boost Technology that will increase suction when it reaches a carpet. This ensures that you get deeper cleaning for your carpet while still getting the best runtime because the Roomba will use less energy when cleaning hard floors which are not very demanding.
Navigation and Control
Now that we know how effective these vacuums are at picking up dirt from your floors, let’s take a look at how they will find their way around your home and the options you have for giving commands to these devices.
iRobot Roomba 960
When it comes to navigation, this Roomba comes equipped with iRobot’s iAdapt 2.0 that works together with vSLAM technology to optimize coverage while at the same time ensuring that the robot will never end up lost.
This navigation technology uses the camera on the Roomba to build a map of its surroundings so that it can know where it is in your home and the areas that have been covered. This technology uses the various sensors on the robot to take thousands of measurements every millisecond to ensure maximum coverage.
In addition to the sensors used in navigation, you also get cliff-detect sensors that will prevent the robot from falling off the stairs when it reaches the top edge. It also comes with one dual-mode virtual wall barrier to give you greater control of where the robot can go and where it can’t.
This Roomba can be controlled using the three onboard buttons, the iRobot Home smartphone app, or your voice if you have an Alexa or Google Home device. The smartphone app gives you the highest level of control while at the same time also giving you more freedom because you don’t have to be close to the robot for it to work.
On the app, you can set vacuuming schedules, get notifications, view coverage maps, adjust vacuuming preferences, start, pause or even stop cleaning runs from anywhere.
This Roomba is not very different from the Roomba 960 when it comes to navigation. It also comes with iAdapt 2.0 and vSLAM technologies so you’ll be getting better coverage of the entire level in your home. It also comes with Dirt Detect sensors that will identify and spend more time in areas with more dirt like high traffic areas.
If you have an area that you don’t want the vacuum to go, this vacuum comes with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers that you can place and set up close to the areas that you need the vacuum to keep off and it will detect them and avoid these areas. The robot also has cliff-detect sensors that will ensure that it doesn’t fall off the stairs.
When it comes to controlling the robot, you also have several options with the Roomba 980. You can use the iRobot HOME smartphone app, the three buttons on the robot or you can connect the robot with an Alexa or Google Home device and it will accept voice commands.
iRobot Roomba 985
This robot is very close to the Roomba 980 when it comes to navigation and control. There’s only one difference between these two vacuums: the Roomba 980 comes with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers while the iRobot Roomba 985 does not come with any.
Other than that, everything is just like it is in the Roomba 980.
Let’s now find out how the batteries in these robot vacuum cleaners perform.
iRobot Roomba 960
This robot vacuum comes with an 1800 mAh Lithium-ion battery that will power the vacuum for up to 75 minutes before you have to recharge. This is the lowest runtime when compared to the other two, but it is still acceptable when compared to the other options in the market.
This vacuum makes up for the lower runtime by including the recharge and resume feature that enables the battery to clean the entire house no matter how large it is regardless of the time it will take to clean. If the battery runs low before it is finished, it will head back to the dock, recharge and come back to finish the job.
With this feature, you don’t ever have to worry about runtime because the recharging and resuming takes place with no need for intervention from you.
iRobot Roomba 980 and 985
We are going to bundle these two robots together because they are similar when it comes to battery performance. These robots come with a higher capacity 3300 mAh Lithium-ion battery that will power the robots for up to 120 minutes before the need to recharge comes up.
If for some reason this cleaning time is not enough for your home and the battery runs low before completing the cleaning task, these robots will know when to interrupt the cleaning job, make way to the charging docks and come back to finish the job once the batteries are fully charged.
All this happens unsupervised so runtime should not be a big concern even if you have very large rooms. The robots should be able to clean the entire level unsupervised unless the dirt collection bins get full first in which case you would have to physically empty the bins.
Let’s finish by taking a look at how these Roombas perform when it comes to filtration of the exhaust air before it is released back into your home.
iRobot Roomba 960
This robot comes with an AeroForce High-Efficiency filter that does a good job of catching a majority of the small particles before they are released back into your home. It’s not a true HEPA filter, but it will still do a good job of keeping your indoor air quality high after vacuuming.
You will be provided with one extra filter to ensure that you get a few months of use before you have to go back to the store for a replacement.
iRobot Roomba 980
This robot also comes with a high-efficiency HEPA filter that will capture up to 99% of particles from the air before it is released into your home. If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, this filter will make life more comfortable especially if you happen to be at home as the robot vacuums.
Like in the Roomba 960, this vacuum also comes with an extra replacement filter.
iRobot Roomba 985
This robot comes with the same HEPA filter in the Roomba 980 so you should expect no problems if you or someone in your family has allergies. However, it doesn’t come with an extra filter so you will be looking for a replacement sooner than if you had bought the Roomba 980.
These three robot vacuums are quite close when it comes to performance. The Roomba 960 is the oldest and understandably most affordable version because of the lower runtime and suction strength, but it still delivers decent results.
There is a fine line separating the Roomba 980 and 985. The Roomba 985 looks and performs just like the Roomba 980 except for an extra replacement filter, side brush, and the two dual-mode virtual wall barriers. With this in mind, the Roomba 985 is a bit cheaper but you still get the same machine.
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Last update on 2020-09-18 / Most affiliate links and/or Images from Amazon Product Advertising API